a few favorites, mostly food, some old, some new (to me)…
With its picturesque parks and emphasis on apéro, Paris may just be the picnic capital of the world. But there’s one alfresco dining location that will always have my heart…
Whether it be a quiet morning croissant or a much-needed apératif spread, Le Canal Saint Martin reigns king among Parisian picnic places. Attracting young families, locals, and artists to its banks, the Canal captures all that is cool. Its mirrored green surface reflects the thriving trees and distinct architecture of the trendy neighborhood, showing pedestrians the fluttering, introspective Paris of the moment.
*Pro Tip: Grab un tradition at Du Pain et Des Idées and a coffee at Ten Belles in the morning, or a hummus toast at Caoua, a yummy salad at Myrthe and a bottle of wine in the afternoon, and get comfy. The people watching is unparalleled.
Each time I go to Paris, there are certain things I just must do. A picnic along the Canal, a nap in Place de Vosges, un tradition from my favorite bakery. I thought I’d share a few of them here with you, starting with a trove of treasures that was new to me this time around…
If you should find yourself with nothing to do on a Sunday in Paris, put on some walking shoes and make your way over to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen to peruse one of the city’s most bountiful flea markets. If you push past hoards of folks peddling dress shirts wrapped in plastic and “designer” sunglasses for €10, your persistence will be rewarded with a enclave of antique gems and oddities, ripe for the cherishing.
Practice your french bartering with sellers for a pair of tiny tin soldiers to bring home for your brother. Pick up an antique Dijon container to fill with flowers back in Providence. Fall in love with a random, romantic napkin ring- of all things- boasting your mother’s first initial elegantly scripted in metallic. Remember the sound of the Edith Piaf crooner in the lively restaurant sinking into the market’s mid-section, savor the smell of a dusty summer in the city.
*Pro tip: Stop by the hip commune-style café La Recyclerie to fuel up on fresh assiettes du jour, homemade in an eco-forward oasis of a cafeteria. Again, not for the timid traveler, but fully worth the one-of-a-kind experience and healthy helping of trendy french fair.
…Boulder! These past few days have been the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation between busy Vail and a full itinerary awaiting us in Denver. A few stops worth mentioning:
Boulder Bookstore. We made 2 visits to this beautiful bookstore in the heart of the downtown area to peruse/get lost. I came away with Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, and M bought a few nerdy business books ;)
Zeal. The grilled peach with goat cheese, honeycomb, and balsamic. Oh, boy. Wish we had more time here just so I could do another meal at this farm-to-table spot.
Boxcar Roasters. Sharing a space with the boutique foodie shop/cheese and charcuterie counter/wine corner, this coffee shop screams expert curation. I had a really yummy jasmine green tea, and M reports that the coffee was good, too.
The flatirons. We hiked up around the flatirons loop early in the morning. The weather was gorgeous. We decided to stop at the top and sit on the big stretch of rocks that overlooks the valley. In a series of unfortunate events (ahem), my phone was dropped several feet below the layers of rocks. M recalled a quote from Confucious as we pried up heavy boulders and used long branches like chopsticks to fish it out. An hour later, the phone was cracked and dirty, but in my hands. Save to say, the hike was still beautiful, just hang on to your slippery electronics!
Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. This teahouse was built in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, then disassembled and shipped to Boulder, where it was carefully rebuilt as a sign of friendship and peace between the two cities. Quite simply, the building is stunning, the tea menu is pleasingly extensive, and my Mediterranean salad was delicious.
Alpine Modern Cafe. This is fast fine-dining in a design-happy environment. Our brunch was so nutrient dense and filling, we were still quite satisfied when dinner time rolled around.
A comprehensive list of everything we saw and ate in between celebrity dancer sightings and life-changing performances:
Le Pain Quotidien is always our first stop in the city. No matter the time of day or where we are headed next, it’s always a safe bet for something refreshing and delicious. It’s like a fancier, Frencher Panera Bread. Ask for their chocolate/hazelnut spread to smear over their homemade bread.
Central Park in April, my goodness, yes. We walked directly through the park from Lincoln Center to one of the early-round competition sites to see the lovely FBP students perform (congrats!), and it was magical. Birds chirping, sun shining, flowers blooming magical.
Jack’s Wife Freda for breakfast bowls and a rosewater pancake. It was a struggle not to order every option on the menu (dying to try the green shakshuka and the Mediterranean breakfast!). The staff was also very sweet and oh so chic. 10/10, would recommend.
Blue Dog Kitchen. Golden corn bread with honeyed butter. Enough said.
Williamsburg stops: Catbird for a couple of new threadbares, WholeFoods for gawking and trail mix, Bedford Cheese (in a new location!) for fancy coffee to bring home to the manfriend, Sabon for fancy soaps to bring home to Mama, and Woops! Bakeshop for new/old friends and green tea catch ups.
The Empire Rooftop for Kentucky Gingers & shenanigans.
A thin strip of exposed brick to your left suggests the former life of a sunny crêpe shop. We pen wedding congratulations and prep for wedding celebrations. We taste-test our way through the section of summer I’ll refer to as “pre-France”, croissant-galette-tarte-samiches on back steps in the rain. We play “which corner would you photograph” and I point out the mansard roof to our right. You like the font over Gary’s Drugs. Hydrangea-stamped homes and organic-lined shelves pepper the walls of Beacon Hill, raindrops and creamy petals dot the floors. We reminisce on touching toasts and hip bars with morbid names. I notice floral details and you notice me noticing them. We explore abandoned buildings from the top of the city, stumble upon a cornhole tournament and play a round to the sound of Purple Rain. Hummus summons and we discover Pita. We discuss travel both near and far in the future, and all the while I’m just hoping the future feels a lot like right now.